multiple shrines

I had this question posed to me in regards to my post about my syncretic worship of Apollon and Shiva in which I was asked that if I was worshiping at separate shrines how this made it syncretic and not just worshiping Apollon and Shiva as separate gods (my paraphrase).

The first thing that came to my mind was, what does how it may appear to casual observer looking at my altars signify in my relationship with this god, or how I interpret their syncretism, or internally understand this god? That really made no sense to me because a lot of what we do religiously is not external but rather internal. There are external clues so to speak…like if you hear me playing mantras to Shiva while I am praying to Apollon and occasionally burning some of the Shiva incense for him…that may be a slight external clue. Also when in prayers at the altar for Apollon I call him Shiva in the prayer, and same at the altar of Shiva I have addressed him at times as Apollon there…well there would be more external clues. And perhaps these are things that I should have put into my first post to give a better idea of my syncretic worship of this god.

But really the thing that drew my attention the most is, why shouldn’t there be separate shrines? I have multiple shrines for Apollon in my household. The main altar by the doorway in the living room which is the main household altar for Apollon, and a smaller shrine to Apollon Lykeios on my bedroom desk. On my bedroom dresser meanwhile is my shrine to Shiva. Having multiple shrines doesn’t mean that I consider each of these as separate gods in my household…but rather having three shrines that do specific things. The main one in the living room is for prayers to protect the oikos as well as general offerings to the god, especially as Agyieus, and particularly on his sacred days. The smaller shrine to Lykeios in my bedroom is for praying at when I rise and before bed. The shrine for Shiva is where I pour offerings at the shivalinga. Each shrine has been developed a certain focus. And that is how I regard them, as very specific foci rather than a huge monster of a shrine to do everything.

Perhaps this is confusing, especially for folks who only have one shrine per deity in their household. But for me it makes perfect sense…and it is not uncommon in Hellenismos especially when historically you would have altars to specific epithets of a god within feet of each other. Sometimes it is more serviceable to have more than one shrine….and even more so when you are dealing different cultural formulas of worship.

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4 thoughts on “multiple shrines

  1. This makes sense. Currently I’ve only got the one Poseidon shrine, largely due to space constraints. At our old place, I had three. Beth has two Odin shrines, and I’ve got the plans for a small Poseidon one in the works, but it’s all in planning stages. More than anything I like having separate spaces for different Gods, and I do miss that about living in a larger space.

    • It *is* nice having separate spaces for ones household worship, whether that be multiple shrines for one deity, or something as simple as even having separate shrines for various deities. I like having a generic household altar for all the gods for general offering for the oikos (such as during the Noumenia), but really it gets a bit boggling trying to worship at a crowded altar/shrine ya know 🙂 So I feel for you!

  2. I’m moving into a MUCH smaller place, so I won’t have anywhere to set up my current altar. Thusly, several smaller ones will be set up (on the kitchen windowsill, on top of the bookcase, etc) out of necessity. It’ll be interesting, having multiple foci instead of a one-size-fits-all kind of altar.

    • You may find that you like it. As I replied to Naiadis, the thing about having everything put on one big altar is sometimes it is distracting if you are trying to pray to and make offering to one god. I tried doing that for a while having multiple gods on an altar/shrine and it just got frustrating because then I ended up spreading my attention further than I had wanted to on that occasion. For a couple of years Apollon and Artemis shared a shrine and it was actually a relief when it got dismantled and they moved to opposite sides of the room where I could give each the full attention that they deserve 😉 At any rate it should certainly be an interesting experience for you!

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